Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez called on Virginia Governor Ralph Northam to resign following Northam’s Saturday news conference.
Since Friday, many have called for Northam’s resignation after a page from his medical school yearbook was made public. A photo featured on the page showed two people in racist costumes, one wearing blackface and the other dressed in Ku Klux Klan attire.
“I spoke with Governor Northam this morning. His past actions are completely antithetical to everything the Democratic Party stands for,” Perez said in a statement on Saturday.
“Virginians and people across the country deserve better from their leaders, and it is clear that Ralph Northam has lost their trust and his ability to govern.
“The Democratic Party believes that diversity is our greatest strength and that hatred and racism have no place in our democracy. And we will never hesitate to hold accountable people who violate those values, regardless of their party affiliation,” Perez continued.
He then called on Northam to let Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax take over as governor of Virginia.
JUST IN: DNC Chair Tom Perez calls for Gov. Northam to resign: “Virginians and people across the country deserve better from their leaders, and it is clear that Ralph Northam has lost their trust and his ability to govern.” pic.twitter.com/rvgWHrtXB5
— NBC Politics (@NBCPolitics) February 2, 2019
On Friday, Northam apologized for appearing in the photo showing two people in racist costumes. In an apology video posted on Twitter, Northam said, “I am deeply sorry. I cannot change the decisions I made, nor can I undo the harm my behavior caused then and today.”
My fellow Virginians, earlier today I released a statement apologizing for behavior in my past that falls far short of the standard you set for me when you elected me to be your governor. I believe you deserve to hear directly from me. pic.twitter.com/1rSw1oxfrX
— Ralph Northam (@GovernorVA) February 2, 2019
However, Northam evidently didn’t remember his actions from his med school years very clearly, because on Saturday he retracted his statement and claimed not to have been in the photo after all, Fox News reported.
“When I was confronted with the image, I was appalled that it appeared on my page, but I believed then and I believe now that I am not either of the people in that photograph,” Northam said, despite having apologized for being in the photo.
“It has taken time for me to make sure that it’s not me, but I am convinced, I am convinced that I am not in that picture,” he told reporters.
During his Saturday news conference, Northam admitted that he had worn blackface around that time for a different occasion, when he put shoe polish on his face to dress up as Michael Jackson for a dance contest. Northam said he regrets that at the time he hadn’t understood “the harmful legacy of an action like that.”
Northam also took time to mention that he won the contest for which he had dressed in blackface, thanks in part to his Moonwalk dancing skills.
When a reporter asked Northam if he could still perform Michael Jackson’s signature move, Northam paused and looked around as if searching for room. His wife Pamela then told him it was “inappropriate circumstances.”
Northam has fought against the widespread calls for resignation. Perez’s statement just added to the many denunciations of Northam from those within and outside his party.
Both of Virginia’s senators have called Northam to tell him to resign.
According to The Associated Press, “Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine and the dean of Virginia’s congressional delegation, Rep. Bobby Scott, said the recent events ‘have inflicted immense pain and irrevocably broken the trust Virginians must have in their leaders.'”
Top Republicans in the Virginia General Assembly have also pressed Northam to resign, as have many potential Democratic presidential candidates.
Other groups who have called for Northam’s resignation include the Virginia Democratic Party and the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus.
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